Growing Succulents Successfully
Succulent plants require only a few basic things, but these few things are
very important. Growing succulents successfully depends on recognizing the difference
between xerophytes, desert plants and other types of house plants that originate in a jungle situation.
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If you try and grow succulents in the same way as many other houseplants, the results could be disappointing.
Sometimes they are at a disadvantage even before you get them; if you've ever asked this question: Why is my succulent dying? you need to see this page.
Many indoor gardeners have grown other jungle plants, even had great success with Epiphyllum, the Orchid Cactus and Schlumbergera, the Christmas Cactus.
Although many epiphytes are succulents, the conditions they prefer are more like a other plants we grow indoors; they have adapted to more rainfall, and a compost based soil due to the fact that they originate high in treetops bathed in mist and growing in leaves and twigs caught in the branches of the trees.
Much more difficult are Lithops, the Living Stones or Pebble Plants. Learning how to grow Lithops is the ultimate challenge in growing succulent plants.Their preference is for perfect drainage, with certain dormant periods throughout the year.
Wondering what type of succulent you have? Learn more with the Succulent Identification Chart.
Caring for the most common succulents is a skill easily learned, with just a few rules.
Growing Succulents Successfully; a few basic rules
Succulent plants have a need for a well drained soil, whereas most
house plant soil is the opposite. Mixing a regular soilless mix with
extra aggregate such as pumice, perlite or small gravel or turkey grit will improve the drainage part of the soil mix immensely.
Another requirement that is crucial for succulents is that the
soil should dry out almost completely in between thorough waterings.
See the page on succulent soil for more guidelines.
Bright light as well as the day length is essential; supplement the daylight with grow lights for the winter
Light Requirements for Succulent Plants
If you envision where these plants were adapted to in their wild
habitat, in most cases they are in full blazing sun, with long hours of
intense ultraviolet exposure.
The perfect conditions in an indoor situation will be in bright light
such as a south or east window, supplemented with extra hours of light
under fluorescent tubes.
I use one cool and one warm tube in industrial or shop fixtures, which gives the correct spectrum of light - this is a much more economical choice than the more expensive and exclusive 'grow tubes' that you can buy.
Avoid metal halide or other large lamps - these create a lot of heat, and also high energy bills.
Optimum length of light should be around 12-14 hours of light per
day, so supplement the natural daylight they receive with grow lights
to that amount.
Watering Tips for Succulents
Using rainwater or distilled water warmed to room temperature or
even to lukewarm or tepid will give the best results. Cold water shocks
the roots, resulting in their death.
In the winter while the plants are in a state of dormancy, I
usually cut back on the frequency of the water they receive, although
they still get the occasional deep watering. For the summer, they can
take a lot more moisture once they go into a growing phase - let their appearance guide you in applying the watering can.
Also keep in mind that succulents originate in dry arid climates; growing them in high humidity areas can cause problems with rot, so avoid watering them altogether if it's raining or very humid.
Fertilize only sparingly, as in the conditions and environments where
these desert plants originate, organic matter, especially any kind of
manure is nonexistent.
The best kinds of fertilizers, if used at all, are very weak solutions of compost tea, or worm castings that will act as a slow release fertilizer.
displayed out doors for the summer, I sometimes mix a small amount of
pasteurized steer manure into the soilless mix to provide all the
nutrients for a full season. There is little risk of introducing pests
into your overwintering room with a sterile additive.
Winterizing Succulents E-Course
Not sure what you should be doing when bringing your tender succulents indoors for the winter?
Sign up for the FREE Winterizing Succulents E-Course and find out how to keep your succulents happy and healthy:
Click on the picture:
Buy commercially produced bagged worm castings or grow your own with a worm farm; find out how to start your own vermicomposting with the Organic Garden Goddess.
Succulents thrive in a bright warm environment
Their evolution in these types of conditions has given them strategies for survival in only those conditions.
Low light levels and a humid atmosphere will lead to them struggling to survive.
Following the rules of succulent care will ensure that your plants are happy and healthy, disease and pest free. Once you learn the basic guidelines for caring for succulents your collection will thrive.
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Succulent Plant Pests
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